Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
“Dr. Rannals, Rover has been having all kinds of trouble getting up in the morning. He doesn’t seem to get into the back of the pickup or up the steps of the front porch as easily as he used to. It takes him forever to get up, but once he does, he walks fine.”
The statement above is typical of the symptoms that clients list concerning pets that are suffering from a bone disease called HIP DYSPLASIA. This is an inherited disease of the “ball and socket” joint of the pelvis. Any breed can be affected, but it is more common in larger breeds such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Great Danes.
Hip dysplasia, an inherited disease, causes degeneration of the cartilage and bone of the hip joint, thereby producing inflammation and discomfort in movement of the joint. Up and down movement by the pet, such as climbing up steps or jumping into the car, are the typical actions that cause discomfort. As the hip undergoes these changes, the disease shows up on radiographs (X-ray’s). In fact, the only reliable tool for diagnosis is radiology.
Once dogs are affected with hip dysplasia, there is no cure. Just as with arthritis, this disease is targeted with medications or surgeries to effect pain relief. There are several medications on the market to help alleviate the inflammation and pain. There are also surgeries to change the structure of the hip joint and surrounding muscles that are effective in slowing the destructive changes as well as offering substantial relief. These surgeries are usually performed by orthopedic specialists. Dr. Rannals can give more details.
Obviously, the best treatment for this problem is prevention. That is, selected breeding to limit distribution of the genes that trigger it. When buying a pup from a commonly affected breed, ask the breeders about preventive measures such as O.F.A. certification. This is an organization founded to identify those dogs from the breeding population who are likely to spread the disease. By studying carefully prepared radiographs of the parents, the probability of these dogs passing hip dysplasia on to future pups can be determined with pretty good accuracy. So ask the breeder if the parents have been “OFA certified” when considering their pups. If you have a pup, it is a very good idea to have Dr. Rannals take radiographs of the hips for study and certifications before considering that pet for breeding. This is done under a light anesthesia to assure proper alignment of the hip joints for evaluation.
In recent years we’ve learned that even if a pup has the genetic predisposition for dysplasia, careful nutrition in the pups early development may prevent that pet from developing the disease. That’s the idea behind all the puppy foods that are labeled for large breed puppies. We at the Rannals Small Animal Hospital in Whitehouse highly recommend using large breed puppy foods for your pup up to about a year of age. There are several good foods on the market for this, but Science Diet is our favorite.
Please call us for further information about the painful disease or to have your pet checked at 903-839-7235.